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Morning Brew Recap: Andy Bertapelle, CEO of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital

We are excited to provide you with a recap of our recent Community Connection Event featuring Andy Bertapelle, CEO of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital (SMH) and Board Member of Limestone FCU.

The event, held at The Grind Coffee House, aimed to strengthen community bonds by facilitating discussions among participants, local leaders, business owners, and esteemed figures like Andy.

Throughout the event, Andy shared invaluable insights into the past, present, and future of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, engaging attendees in thought-provoking dialogue for over an hour. His extensive background in patient care, which began with 12 years of service in the US Navy, coupled with his nursing expertise and dedication to learning, provided a rich foundation for the conversation. Andy, who self-identifies as a “serial learner,” completed his third master’s degree (Healthcare Delivery Science at Dartmouth College) in 2022 prior to coming to SMH.

Andy explained the distinction between non-profit and for-profit medical systems, elucidating how SMH reinvests its profits into enhancing services, employee welfare, equipment upgrades, and community initiatives. It is important to know that although their name references Schoolcraft, SMH does not receive any funding from the County. With 347 employees, SMH stands as a cornerstone of the local economy, striving for mutual prosperity between the hospital and the community it serves.

Andy emphasized the unique advantages of an independent community hospital like SMH, highlighting the institution’s commitment to providing comprehensive healthcare services locally. He underscored the importance of onsite services, such as Urology, Cardiology, ENT Specialties, General and Orthopedic Surgery, Podiatry, and extensive Rehabilitation Services including Aquatic Therapy, which distinguish SMH from conventional rural healthcare facilities. SMH also operates a satellite Rural Health Clinic in Naubinway and a Behavioral Health Clinic in downtown Manistique.

SMH has taken the lead in prioritizing patient health within Schoolcraft County, thereby reducing the necessity for patients to travel for health care services. Additionally, Andy highlighted the crucial role of visiting specialties in augmenting the quality of healthcare offerings, particularly in areas where full-time staffing may not be feasible. He cited examples of successful partnerships, such as the collaboration with Green Bay Oncology, which delivers services in the new Oncology unit three to four days per week. Similarly, the recent addition of dermatology services through a partnership with Lilly Dermatology ensures bi-monthly access to care within Schoolcraft County, significantly benefiting the community. Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital is planning to hire two full-time Athletic Trainers to work with Manistique Area Schools to provide care and support for our student athletes.

Discussion also centered on SMH’s fundraising endeavors, including the upcoming annual Gala in April, aimed at procuring essential diagnostic equipment including a new portable ultrasound for their anesthesiologists.

Andy urged community members to support these initiatives, emphasizing the pivotal role of philanthropy in advancing healthcare infrastructure. He encouraged the community to support these efforts through attendance at the gala and through donations.

Moreover, Andy shed light on SMH’s innovative programs, such as the onsite training partnership with UP Michigan Works!, which offers aspiring medical assistants with valuable educational opportunities. When asked if this is common for rural hospitals, Andy indicated it is done but not typical of an organization of our size. This initiative underscores SMH’s commitment to nurturing local talent and addressing healthcare workforce needs.

The conversation also touched upon pressing community issues like housing, with Andy detailing SMH’s collaboration with InvestUP to address senior housing needs. While SMH doesn’t directly invest in housing projects, it plays a vital role in facilitating discussions and partnerships to tackle community challenges.

As we concluded the session, participants redirected the conversation towards housing, a persistent concern in Schoolcraft County and Michigan. Andy informed the group that with the aid of grant funds and assistance from InvestUP, the old rural health clinic building had been dismantled. A subsequent feasibility study revealed a pressing need for independent senior housing in the county. However, Andy clarified that while SMH has no plans to undertake or invest in such ventures, they prepared the property for potential future development by external investors, based on the findings of the feasibility study.

Antonio Adan, Housing Specialist for Marquette County, shared insights into Marquette’s recent completion of a target market analysis study, conducted in collaboration with Lake Superior Community Partnership (LSCP), Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development (CUPPAD) Regional Commission, the Land Bank, InvestUP, Economic Development, and other partner organizations. This study provided valuable data supporting the identification of housing needs and types required to meet demand over the next five years.

Julie Barr of Keller Williams Realty emphasized the fundamental needs of individuals considering relocation; highlighting food, shelter, and healthcare as top priorities. While housing remains a critical concern, healthcare concerns are just as critical.

Judie Zerilli, Board Member of Limestone FCU, commented on the welcoming atmosphere of the new hospital, noting the evident dedication of staff to serving patients.

Sara Giles, SMH’s Marketing Director, relayed an anecdote about a prospective hire who was pleasantly surprised by the warm and inviting culture at SMH. Andy echoed this sentiment, expressing pride in the hospital’s environment and emphasizing the team’s unwavering focus on patient care. He emphasized the significance of both the technical and human aspects of healthcare delivery, underscoring the importance of ensuring patients and staff feel valued and welcomed.

Andy extended an invitation to anyone considering relocation to the area or currently residing there to reach out if they would like to tour the facility.

One of the key takeaways from the event was Andy’s vision of SMH as a holistic healthcare system, emphasizing a patient-centered approach that extends beyond traditional hospital services. This holistic perspective offers manifold opportunities for enhancing community health and well-being.

Overall, the event provided an enriching platform for participants to connect with Andy Bertapelle, exchange ideas, and gain deeper insights into the future of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital. We extend our gratitude to Andy for his invaluable contributions and look forward to future collaborations.

We invite you to stay tuned for updates on upcoming sessions, as we believe these interactions are instrumental in fostering a more informed and cohesive community.

Thank you for your continued support, and we eagerly anticipate your participation in our future events.



Article by, Jennifer C. Watson, CEO, of Limestone FCU